My Cat is Alpha Dog of our Pack!
My cat rules the roost, I guess you would call that a “Roost Ruler”, I call her Alpha Dog! I think, because she is the only cat in my house, she also thinks she is a dog. She is markedly upset when she watches the dogs go outside, or when we leave on short vacations without her!
At night, all dogs sleep in my bedroom and she RACES into the bedroom and sits on the crate next to my side of the bed and waits for me. I can’t shower alone, sometimes I have 3 dogs and a cat in the bathroom with me and if she is really lucky when I take a bath I let her sit out on the “island” that is me. She sits on my legs and dips her tail and paws in the water and purrs with joy. She is an integral part of our family and I love her (shhhhh I am kind of a secret cat person)!
She is a covert ninja and habitually jumps out from behind or beneath furniture to wreak havoc on my canine crew. She flies through the air and instigates the “vader bomb” and other pro-wrestling maneuvers popping them in the face with her power paw and biting their legs and then running for the safety of her cat house.
I have big dogs they could kill my cat in the blink of an eye and I would never want to risk her life so because I am the alpha of my house I make sure my dogs have respect for my cat or any smaller dog that might enter my house.
I also have herding dogs and they must be taught to curb their natural chasing instinct and respect the cat!
Since my dogs were pups, I have made it a point that they are not allowed to chase or mistreat the cat no matter what she does to them. Because of their obvious size difference they are simply not allowed to retaliate. If, however, I think the cat has gone too far with her mischievous cat-like ways I use a squirt bottle. Respect is a MUST at my house for everyone involved!
I keep my puppies or new adult dogs on a leash when they first come home. They are not allowed full reign of the house until they earn it! This allows me to teach them how to interact with everyone in my family including my cat! This keeps them from forming naughty habits when it comes to the cat and everything else in my house.
By controlling their environment, I am conditioning them to accept the things that I think are important. This also gives the other dogs and cat the ability to feel like their house is not being taken over. When my other animals feel like there is a puppy “invasion” they can become withdrawn, angry, and defensive about their home, their “things” and sharing me.
Instead, they know the puppy’s or dog’s limits and where they are in the house. The other animals can make the choice whether or not to come and interact with the new arrival. Often, I think owners make the mistake of letting a new dog or puppy run freely through the house and torment the existing animals and family members! This out of control feeling makes everyone feel hostile and belligerent and it is almost impossible to train an out of control dog or puppy!
I also teach my animals the “leave it” command early in training. “Leave it” means you can’t look at, touch, chase or eat whatever I am referring to. I start with food that I can control, I say “leave it” and don’t allow my dog access to the food. Once he finally gives up trying, I click and reward with a better treat.
Continue putting down food and saying “leave it”, as your dog begins to ignore the food click and treat with the better treat. Next put the food closer and closer, and if your dog is successful continue clicking and treating for his leaving the food alone.
If he is not successful and goes for the unavailable food back up and put the food out of his reach again until he can be successful. The next step is to use the leave it command with a higher value treat and follow the same steps.
Soon you will have a dog that is actively leaving whatever item you ask him to because he knows he will get a better reward by listening to you.
So when Ninja cat flies out from behind the sofa, does a “Vader Bomb” (jumps on their back), bites my dog on the ear and runs off into the bedroom my dog simply looks up from where he is laying and gets my attention as if to say “I deserve a treat for that” and I must say I agree! Each time my dogs treat the cat with love and respect or play gently with her they are significantly rewarded for their efforts!
This training regiment keeps the peace in my house and keeps my cat from being injured! This way I have ultimate control and I get to snuggle with both the dogs and the cat!
Not all dogs can live safely with cats! Some adult dogs are too prey driven to live safely with cats, if given the opportunity or if the cat runs some dogs will struggle to kill the cat. I, personally, have never had a problem raising a puppy to live with an existing cat, however I have brought adult dogs into my home that I knew would never be safe to live with my cats.
When integrating a new adult dog, be sure to keep the dog on a leash and don’t allow him access to your house. If you feel uneasy about incorporating the new dog there is probably a reason and another situation (without cats) may be needed! Trust your instincts! If there is staring, hackling, growling or any other aggressive behavior you may need to seek another home for the dog! Never risk the lives or your existing animals to add a new pet to your home! Safety first!!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.